Art meets science meets technology meets you at the upcoming TeamLab SuperNature exhibition at The Venetian Macao. We get a sneak preview of some of the interactive pieces that can be explored, admired and even shaped by their visitors.
Something special is under construction at The Venetian Macao. A gigantic walk–in ‘world of art’ that fuses art, science, tech and entertainment – all the while making the visitor actually part of the piece – opens in March, however, an exact date was yet to be confirmed at the time of print. TeamLab – branded ‘teamLab’ – and it promises a uniquely interactive experience.
TeamLab describes itself as ‘an interdisciplinary group of various specialists such as artists, programmers, engineers, computer graphics animators, mathematicians and architects’ working at ‘the confluence of art, science, technology, design and the natural world’. Despite originating in Tokyo, the group stresses that it is ‘an art collective with members from all over the world’.
The group brings the exhibition to Macao fresh from wowing visitors with unique installations in the world’s leading artistic centres – Tokyo, Paris, London, New York, Melbourne, Singapore and San Francisco among others. The huge installation, which will be at The Venetian permanently (check TeamLab’s website for opening date details), will cover 5,000 square metres of ‘labyrinthine’ floor space with eight–metre–high ‘cavernous’ ceilings inside The Venetian’s Cotai Expo Hall F. This ‘monumental digital art destination’ is expected to attract not just locals but plenty of tourists too.
From humble beginnings
Creative visionary Toshiyuki Inoko founded the art collective along with a group of multi–talented friends in 2001 ‘to create a laboratory to experiment with a collaborative creation’. The Japanese student, fascinated by more than just his majors of maths and science, was keen to find a way to express his multidisciplinary interests. When we speak to him, Inoko says: “I like science and art. I wanted to know the world, wanted to know humans and wanted to know what the world is for humans.”
From the outset, the collective started to develop its unique take on art, science and technology but was largely ignored by the art world. That is, until 2011, when the group had its breakthrough as artist Takashi Murakami invited the group to exhibit at the Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Taipei, Taiwan. As word started to spread, more installations were commissioned and the team grew, helped along the way by promotion from New York’s Pace gallery. Finally, in 2015, TeamLab was able to organise its own exhibition, for the first time, in Tokyo. And it’s been a rollercoaster from there. Right up to the forthcoming show in Macao.
The exhibition hall at The Venetian will act as a gigantic canvas for the interactive exhibition. Inoko says: “The larger the scale, the more organic and continuous the relationship becomes to execute the artwork. That process is quite miraculous.”
A sensory extravaganza
The collective’s members say they are reluctant to reveal all the details of how the installations will be created and how the technologies will be used at the Macao exhibition. There is certainly a big element of surprise for visitors. But they do say that it will be a full sensory experience using an arresting combination of emotive music, bold lighting and interactive visual effects on all surfaces – including walls, multi-level floors and objects like tables, balloons and even the exhibition-goers themselves. They say there will also be the use of ‘digital characters’ who interact with each other and visitors.
Without giving too much away, however, Macao Magazine can reveal that the Macao exhibition will include ‘The Infinite Crystal Universe’, which uses an accumulation of light points on a gigantic scale to create three-dimensional objects, and ‘Mountain of Flowers and People: Lost, Immersed and Reborn’, a calming-yet–visually stimulating digital forest of colourful flowers on layered walls and floors that sway and react as people walk among them.
The exhibition merges nature and technology with a focus on natural elements like light, plants, water and animals. Inoko feels that science is about trying to understand the world by breaking it into ever smaller pieces. But he also says: “No matter how much humans divide things into pieces, they cannot understand the entirety. Even though what people really want to know is the world, the more they separate, the further they become from the overall perception.” In short, the collective aims to provide ‘continuity’ between the art and the viewers in order for them to understand existence as a whole.
The Macao show will include two sections that the group is excited to unveil: the ‘Future Park’ is a play space ‘based on the concept of collaborative creation’ and the ‘Athletics Forest’ is ‘a creative athletic space that helps train spatial awareness based on the concept of understanding the three-dimensionality of the world through the body’. The team also reveals an experimental work. ‘Massless Clouds Between Sculpture and Life’, in which visitors can walk right through a spinning cloud mass which breaks apart and then merges back into itself around them.
The exhibition is immediately accessible to anyone with a sense of imagination and wonder at technological marvels.
Masters of the universe
David Baxley, vice–president for Regional Entertainment at Sands China, which operates The Venetian, explains that the group has been working with the arts collective since 2016 on projects such as the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands’ Future World: Where Art Meets Science in Singapore. He says the artists’ work on similar immersive installations in Tokyo have ‘proved that the collective could handle larger budgets and spaces’.
For The Venetian, the draw of the collective’s art is its universal appeal. Baxley says: “Appreciation of TeamLab’s unique technology does not require cultural expertise or knowledge. The exhibitions and artworks are immediately accessible to anyone with a sense of imagination and wonder at technological marvels.” Baxley adds that the entire installation involves nearly 30,000 pieces of equipment representing an ‘enormous effort by the collective in terms of man–hours, engineering and programming’.
“TeamLab SuperNature will inspire other organisations to see contemporary art as a means of attracting international tourists,” concludes Baxter. “We believe it will quickly become a must-see attraction in Macao.” Judge for yourself when you step into an infinite crystal universe in a few weeks’ time.
NOTE: teamLab has postponed their event to a later date